Whitt’s shot sinks Titans


ND falls 48-47 to Western

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



Notre Dame’s Dominic Sparks scored a game-high 16 points in the Titans’ Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game against Western.

Notre Dame’s Dominic Sparks scored a game-high 16 points in the Titans’ Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game against Western.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Notre Dame senior Jermaine Powell (2) dribbles past Western defender Drew Haggy (11) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at Notre Dame High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Notre Dame senior Carson Sammons (1) is defended by Western’s Kam James (4) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at Notre Dame High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

PORTSMOUTH — Notre Dame’s Cody Metzler, in the form of three-point lightning, almost struck twice in one week.

Unfortunately for the host Titans, it was Western senior Noah Whitt who struck down Notre Dame —with likely the biggest shot of his young life on Friday night.

That’s because the six-foot Whitt, with his top-of-the-key three-point goal with 20 seconds remaining, ultimately lifted the undefeated Indians over the Titans 48-47 —in a key early-season Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball bout, and in which the Titans’ two tries at the game-winner went for not in the final six seconds.

In addition, the small-school affair inside a full house at Notre Dame High School should play a critical outcome in the Division IV Southeast District tournament seeding process.

Notre Dame, had a win moved it to atop the SOC I standings, erased a 10-point (33-23) deficit with four minutes and 48 seconds showing in the third quarter —in a matter of just over 10 minutes to lead 45-41 with 2:05 to go.

But in that final two minutes, Johnathan Strickland scored the only other Titan points —on a basket to make it 47-45 with 40 seconds to play.

In a roller-coaster contest that indeed saw its peaks and valleys on the Sunrise Avenue hilltop, the Indians scored seven points in the final 1:57 —as Kolten Miller drove the baseline twice, and twice scored in a span of 44 seconds for the third and final tie at 45-45.

Strickland scored his go-ahead bucket, but Whitt wound up with the ball off a well-executed Indian offensive set.

Western ran its offense, Whitt went to the top and got the handoff, and spot-shot it — cool, calm and collected with 20 tics to play.

“They didn’t panic there, and did a nice job of execution on that last possession. I don’t know how much time they ran off the clock, but it was quite a bit. We defended pretty well, and the kid hit a big shot. A 23-footer,” said NDHS head coach Matt Mader.

The Titans did defend well on that Western possession, but Whitt indeed hit.

Not only did it give the Indians the 48-47 lead on the fifth and final lead change, but it marked the squad’s seventh three-pointer —and a team-best three from Whitt.

He finished with 14 points, as his other two treys came in the second stanza.

Western coach Doug Williams admitted that the set was not designed for a Whitt shot.

“Noah Whitt has really came into his own this season shooting the ball. I would assume most people on their scouting reports last year had ‘non-shooter’ next to his name. A lot of it was confidence. So we worked on it a lot this summer,” said the coach. “That play at the end there was not even for him. But because they (Titans) they were worried about (Kolten) Miller and (Reed) Brewster, who were both shooters probably in their scouting report, Noah came off that handoff and nobody was on him. He stepped up and hit it. It wasn’t coaching at the end, he just hit a big shot.”

True, but Notre Dame did have possession — and a chance at the game-winner — for the final 14 seconds after taking its final timeout.

The Titans tried first a Jermaine Powell drive down the lane’s right side, but the 6-2 standout Miller —the tallest regular rotation player on the guard-oriented Indians —was right there to block his layup, almost at a downward angle.

Notre Dame then inbounded out to Metzler at the top of the key, as the sophomore hero from Tuesday night’s 71-68 triumph at Symmes Valley got an opportunity for a second buzzer-beater in three days.

Metzler made his trifecta to sink the Vikings, but this one against the Indians unfortunately rimmed off.

“We got a good look, and Cody (Metzler) hit one on Tuesday night from the exact same spot,” said Mader. “He was confident, he let it go, and it just came up short. So that was that.”

That set off a wild Western celebration, as the undefeated Indians improved to a perfect 7-0 —and to 3-0 and directly to the front of the line in the SOC I.

Western won, Notre Dame (2-3) lost to fall to 2-1 in the league, and Symmes Valley vanquished visiting New Boston 68-62 to snap the Tigers’ 31-game division winning streak.

However, the Titans came oh so close to seizing that top spot, but fell behind by double digits midway through the third frame —following fast starts.

Notre Dame scored the first seven points in a span of two minutes and seven seconds, including a Strickland three-pointer, but the Titans trailed 12-11 at the first stop —when Western’s Chase Carter drove to the goal and beat the first-quarter buzzer.

Similar second-quarter case as well —when three-pointers by Powell and Metzler made it 18-12 and 21-15, only to see the Indians storm back for nine unanswered points to end it.

And, Whitt was involved —when he hit two treys, sandwiched around a Drew Haggy split of free throws which tied it at 21-21.

Whitt’s first triple trimmed the Titans’ lead to 21-20 — then his steal in ND’s backcourt, sprint to the top of the other end, and finally his running and pulling-up three-pointer went down for a 24-21 halftime advantage.

That momentum carried over into the third quarter, when Western went up 33-23 —as the Titans’ scoring drought bridging both halves went officially for five minutes and 21 seconds.

Truth be told, that was where Notre Dame lost the game.

Dominic Sparks, the six-foot seven-inch Titan tower in the middle, scored with two minutes and 10 tics gone by in the third — getting Notre Dame back to within 28-23.

“It seems like the third quarter has been a problem for us this year. We talked at halftime about coming out these first three minutes and taking control of this game. But we had a couple of dry spells where we couldn’t score,” said Mader. “Five minutes is way too long.”

But Sparks sparked the comeback bid, as —after two first-half field goals and 2-of-3 first-half free throws — he scored eight third-period points, and the Titans trailed just 36-31 entering the fourth.

Sparks scored 16 points and established his presence underneath, as Notre Dame did hold a significant height advantage on the shorter Tribe.

“I thought Dominic was huge inside. That’s the best game he has played and he is just going to keep getting better and better,” said Mader. “Hopefully, this is a turning point for him. He was confident, had good touch tonight, and we did a good job of feeding him the ball and he was looking for it.”

While Sparks lit up in the third, Strickland caught fire in the fourth.

Of Strickland’s 13, he had 10 in the fourth on a deuce and 2-of-2 free throws — and of course two threes.

His first, from the wing, got the Titans to within 39-38 with 3:55 left — as his corner-pocket three-ball banged home for the game’s second tie at 41-41.

Powell, after nine first-half points on three twos and his three, finally scored again for his 11th and final counter —grabbing a defensive rebound and going all the way for a left-handed layup which put the Titans back in front (43-41).

Metzler then scored on the next possession —after a Sparks block and Strickland assist.

He was the only other Titan to score, and did so with seven points.

Mader mentioned the difference in the final quarter-and-a-half, which including rallying for a 24-22 rebound deficit —after the Titans trailed by a 2-1 (18-9) first-half margin.

“We had a really nice fourth quarter, and I was proud of our guys for fighting back. I thought our conditioning factor weighed on them a little bit, and we got some shots to fall to give us more energy defensively. I was very proud of our defensive effort. Our gameplan and execution of what we wanted to do was very good,” he said. “All night, we got down. But we didn’t panic, we persevered, and worked through it. Guys showed a lot of guts and character to come back and take the lead.”

Take the lead the Titans did, twice actually, but Miller made moves back-to-back for the 45-45 tie —before coming up with the emphatic rejection of Powell’s shot on the defensive end.

Miller, on five deuces and two first-half treys, tied Sparks for a game-high 16 points.

Whitt with his 14, Carter with eight including a split of third-frame technical-foul free throws, Haggy with five including 3-of-4 first-half freebies, Reed Brewster with a first-quarter long-distance dial-up, and Kam James with 2-of-2 fourth-quarter foul shots made up the remainder of the Western scoring.

On the final play which went to Metzler, Mader said the original pass plan was a lob to Sparks —but the Indians defended it, and Metzler couldn’t strike with three-point lightning for a second time in one week.

But, one possession does not a one-point basketball game make.

“It was a great high school basketball game. Two good teams going at it and Western is undefeated for a reason,” said Mader. “We just had a couple of scoring lulls and turned the ball over at inopportune times, and you can’t do that against good teams. You go back and look at four or five different possessions, and those were the keys to the game.”

Fortunately for Notre Dame, it gets its return tilt with Western —along with the other SOC I bouts.

“There’s a lot of basketball left to be played. All we can control is taking it one game at a time,” said Mader. “The kids are hurting right now, but we’ll bounce back.”

The Titans travel to East on Tuesday night —for another affair inside the SOC I.

* * *

Western 12 12 12 12 —48

Notre Dame 11 10 10 16 — 47

WESTERN 48 (7-0, 3-0 SOC I)

Reed Brewster 1 0-0 3, Kam James 0 2-2 2, Drew Haggy 1 3-4 5, Kolten Miller 7 0-0 16, Noah Whitt 5 1-3 14, Gavin Myers 0 0-0 0, Chase Carter 3 1-2 8; TOTALS 17 7-11 48; Three-point field goals: 7 (Noah Whitt 3, Kolten Miller 2, Reed Brewster 1)

NOTRE DAME 47 (2-3, 2-1 SOC I)

Carson Sammons 0 0-0 0, Jermaine Powell 5 0-0 11, Dylan Seison 0 0-0 0, Johnathan Strickland 4 2-2 13, Cody Metzler 3 0-0 7, Dominic Sparks 7 2-3 16, Jarren Edgington 0 0-0 0, Carter Campbell 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 19 4-5 47; Three-point field goals: 5 (Johnathan Strickland 3, Jermaine Powell and Cody Metzler 1)

Notre Dame’s Dominic Sparks scored a game-high 16 points in the Titans’ Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game against Western.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_Western-ND-Sparks-1-4.jpgNotre Dame’s Dominic Sparks scored a game-high 16 points in the Titans’ Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game against Western. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Notre Dame senior Jermaine Powell (2) dribbles past Western defender Drew Haggy (11) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at Notre Dame High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_Western-ND-Powell-1-4.jpgNotre Dame senior Jermaine Powell (2) dribbles past Western defender Drew Haggy (11) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at Notre Dame High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

Notre Dame senior Carson Sammons (1) is defended by Western’s Kam James (4) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at Notre Dame High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_Western-ND-Sammons-4.jpgNotre Dame senior Carson Sammons (1) is defended by Western’s Kam James (4) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball game at Notre Dame High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times
ND falls 48-47 to Western

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved